Young children are losing their childhoods in today’s traditional classrooms. Children’s childhoods are being threatened by classrooms that are filled with plastic, gadgets with buttons, television and computer screens, and closed ended learning materials (educational materials which have only one solution, one correct way to use them). The magic of childhood is being threatened by traditional classroom design, which is governed by numbers: the correct number of blocks, the right number and type of books, the required number of learning or activity centers and the necessary manipulatives.
In today’s world of governed standards in early childhood, our classrooms are being mandated and governed by “stuff”. This “stuff” is supposedly equated to quality. Achieving the right score on the ECERS, FACERS, SACERS, ICERS—or whatever observation assessment tool one uses to measure quality is absolutely not the answer. Although these observational scales may be useful for understanding the basics of classroom environments, critical essentials are being overlooked and actually thwarted, resulting in institutional and cookie cutter children’s habitats and, therefore, a loss of childhood. Bottom line: The loss of habitats eventually and most assuredly results in the loss of childhood.
It’s time to stop the erosion of childhood. It’s time to create new habitats for young children where the spatial conditions of emotion such as kinship, awe, thrill, power, and intimacy are transparent, where children’s habitats are places and not merely spaces, where children can do what they do best, which is simply to be children. Let’s make a commitment to bring back every child’s right: the right of childhood.